Obviously, Fiorina’s failure as CEO of HP has little to do with her qualities but more on egoistic attitude. This was clearly revealed not only by the other HP executives but also by Fiorina herself. The observations made by other HP executives hold much weight especially in the way she conducted her performance. Observation such as “…she was drawn to all the pomp and circumstance” “…nobody liked Carly’s (referring to Fiorina) all that much” “Employees never accepted Fiorina’s attempt to change HP culture” revealed that the problem was more on her egocentric attitude than on her qualities.
Her own action revealed her attitude problem when she displayed her portrait in HP headquarters next to the HP founders which seemed to claim that she was on equal footing with those great men. While it does not contradict the view that personality is important, the only problem with her qualities is that she probably became both over confident and complacent because of her good qualities. This explains why she did not have much time working inside the company but “spent too much time on the road talking to groups. ”
Can a person’s personality be too strong? How so? There seems to have no conclusion as to how strong a strong personality can be as even books on psychology did not seem to go beyond the discussion of strong personality. Caywood (1997) asserts that strong personality “helps to create a distinctive personality for the entire organization, with the further benefit that employees will react strongly and positively to a charismatic leader whom they want to follow” (p. 279). Strong personality is indeed helpful especially in discipline.
But this was not the case with Fiorina. Though she definitely have a strong personality, but it was not too strong as there seemed be no such thing. Her problem was that she was overwhelmed by her qualities and by her personality that made her perhaps a conceited CEO. Do you think gender had anything to do with Fiorina’s firing? No, I don’t think so! The fact that she was hired for that position ruled out gender discrepancy. Instead, her enormous good qualities and her strong personality drove her to become egoistic and overconfident.
Her actuations were apparently influenced by this attitude that put her at odd with HP employees, even with some HP board members, and ultimately, to the son of the HP co-founder. Thus there were obviously valid reasons why Fiorina was fired as CEO of HP that has nothing to do with her gender. The most obvious was that she failed to deliver the performance expected of her because of her laps in judgment. Does this suggest personality testing has little value? The 900-question personality test in two hours by no means is easy.
It is certainly important because it reveals who the person is, how smart, how intelligent, how capable, and how fit is he or she for the position. It is also helpful in screening the candidate especially those that are potentially problematic. In this particular case, Fiorina was acknowledged as one of the best known CEOs which mean that her failure at HP has nothing to do with the result of the personality tests. The tests were simply an instrument to thoroughly identify a person, but it is not the sole instrument for decision making. Thus, I believed that what had happened with her at HP by no means relates to her test results.
I agree that personality test is far from perfect, but as Bernstein and Nash pointed out, “most industrial/organizational psychologists believe that they are valuable tools for the selection of good employees” (p. 447) so I believed that Fiorina’s failure at HP does not suggest testing has little value as prior to her HP assignment, Fiorina has been a good employee. References Bernstein, D. A. & Nash, P. W. (2008) Essentials of Psychology USA: Cengage Learning Caywood, C. L. (1997) The Handbook of Strategic Public Relations & Integrated Communications USA: MacGraw-Hill Professional